SaaS Marketing - Blogging, Social and Search

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-- How do SaaS providers use blogging, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, SEO, PPC, and PR? …

-- How do SaaS providers use blogging, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, SEO, PPC, and PR?

-- How can SaaS providers generate buzz and viral content?

-- Which online channels have the highest ROI?

-- How should SaaS providers integrate social media into their marketing process?

Gilad David Maayan, a SaaS marketing and social media expert, reviews how today's online marketing channels work together to generate high impact for growing SaaS providers.

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  • Hi Gilad, thank you very much & nice charts! One question: where do you consider fix costs? Or do you subsume all relevant costs under variable costs?
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  • 1. SAAS MARKETING: BLOGGING, SOCIAL & SEARCH G ilad David Maayan IGT SaaS WG Meeting www.cloud.org.il
  • 2. Agenda
    • Online Marketing Basics: Acquisition, Conversion, Retention
    • The SaaS Marketing Process
    • Measuring ROI of Online Marketing
    • How Blogging, Social and Search are Used in SaaS
  • 3. A Bit About Me – Gilad David Maayan
    • Former SEM and Content Manager of GigaSpaces
      • (cloud application server & data grid vendor)
    • Helped CTO build a leading blog for software architects
    • 10 years’ experience in marketing and technical writing
    • Worked for Oracle, Check Point, Amdocs and over 50 other technology companies
    • Won 3 international awards for tech. communication
    • Now specializing in SaaS marketing and social content
    • For more info, see my LinkedIn Profile
  • 4. Online Marketing Basics
  • 5. Online Marketing Basics
  • 6. Online Marketing Basics
    • Definition: Getting people to engage with your web presence
    • Good acquisition: Getting potential customers to visit your site
    • Bad acquisition: Getting irrelevant visitors who become low-quality leads
    • Acquisition cost: The money you have to spend to get a visitor. Examples:
      • Banner advertising: $30 per thousand impressions * 1% clicks = $3 per visitor
      • Pay Per Click: $4 per click = $4 per visitor
      • Search Engine Optimization: $800 per month to get 1,000 visitors = $0.8 per visitor
  • 7. Online Marketing Basics
    • Common SaaS acquisition methods:
      • Blogging
      • Micro-blogging – Twitter, etc.
      • Social networks – Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
      • Media sharing – YouTube, Flickr, SlideShare
      • Bookmarking and popularity sites – Digg, StumbleUpon, Delicious
      • Public relations
      • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
      • Paid online advertising – PPC, banner ads
      • E-mail campaigns
      • Affiliate marketing
  • 8. Online Marketing Basics
  • 9. Online Marketing Basics
    • Definition: Getting online visitors to perform a desirable action
    • Typical conversion actions:
      • Download a whitepaper
      • Sign up for a newsletter
      • Sign up for a free trial
      • Sign up for your service
      • Sign up for your service and actually pay for it
  • 10. Online Marketing Basics
    • Conversion goal: A page on your site which users reach when they convert (thank you page)
    • Conversion rate: What % of your visitors performed the conversion action
    • Conversion funnel: Path of conversion actions that leads to a desired outcome
    • For example, of all website visitors:
      • 4% click “sign up for free trial”
      • 80% of those complete the signup process
      • Conversion of visitors to leads: 3.2%
      • 70% of signups start the trial
      • 5% of those sign up for a paid plan
      • Conversion of leads to sales: 3.5%
  • 11. Online Marketing Basics
    • Common ways to improve conversion for SaaS products:
      • Doing a better job at acquisition
      • Optimizing your landing pages
      • Optimizing your signup/shopping cart process
      • Improving your demo/trial offering
      • Improving your demo/trial experience
      • Offering a free/introductory plan or improving the existing one
  • 12. Online Marketing Basics
  • 13. Online Marketing Basics
    • Definition: Getting visitors to…
      • Keep in touch with you
      • Perform more conversion actions
      • Pay you more money
    • Critical for SaaS , especially in a low-touch model
    • Benefits of good retention:
      • Increases lifetime value per customer
      • Reduces churn
      • Builds a community
      • Increases customer satisfaction
  • 14. Online Marketing Basics
    • Common methods of retention for SaaS products:
      • Product blogs
      • Newsletters
      • Sales calls
      • Proactive customer support
      • Microblogging
      • Networking with existing customers/prospects on social networks
  • 15. The SaaS Marketing Process Online Marketing Process Acquisition Conversion Retention
  • 16. The SaaS Marketing Process
    • Step 1: Core Assets + Roadmap
    • What do we bring to the table?
      • Software, hosting, support, pricing model, brand
    • What will we add to the product in the near future?
    • What are our key features?
    • What are our competitive advantages?
    • Different packages/plans for different market segments?
    • What is our demo/trial/evaluation experience?
  • 17. The SaaS Marketing Process
    • Step 2: Market Positioning
    • Given our core assets…
    • What is our market?
    • How can we credibly describe ourselves?
      • e.g. “enterprise collaboration software”
    • What do customers expect from our type of solution?
    • Who actually purchases this type of solution?
    • Who actually uses this type of solution, and how?
    • What are competitors offering?
    • How do we measure up?
    • What will make customers choose us?
  • 18. The SaaS Marketing Process
    • Step 3: Messaging
    • Given our market positioning…
    • What is our slogan/tagline?
    • What is our audience?
      • B2B technical, B2B C-Level, consumer
    • How should we describe our product?
      • Terminology, tone, attention span
    • Which features/capabilities should we focus on?
    • How should we pitch these features to customers?
  • 19. The SaaS Marketing Process
    • Step 4: Content
    • Given our messaging…
    • Which content will interest our target audience?
    • Which search terms are used by our audience?
    • What content should be on our website?
      • Homepage, landing pages, resources
    • What content should be on our blog?
    • What content should we push to social media channels?
    • Who will produce the content?
      • SMEs, writers/bloggers, marketing
  • 20. The SaaS Marketing Process
    • Step 5: Acquisition
    • Given the content we have…
    • How do we drive traffic to our site and blog?
    • How do we achieve good search engine rankings?
    • How do we get people’s attention on social networks?
    • How do we achieve visibility on popularity/media sharing sites?
    • Are we getting the right kind of visitors?
  • 21. The SaaS Marketing Process
    • Step 6: Conversion and Retention
    • Given the visitors we’ve acquired…
    • How do we get them to sign up or buy?
    • How do we keep them engaged if they’re not ready yet?
    • How do we get them to continue with us / upgrade / buy more?
    • What are they saying about us and what can we do about it?
  • 22. The SaaS Marketing Process
    • Back to Step 1
    • What can we learn from our new customers?
    • What can we learn from those who DIDN’T become customers?
    • What should we change in the product?
      • More coverage of customer needs
      • Improved positioning
      • Higher appeal => lower acquisition costs
    • How does this affect our positioning, messaging, content?
  • 23.
    • Four benefits of a holistic marketing process:
      • You’ll know how to price your product, how to present it on your site and what kind of trial/demo is most appropriate
      • You’ll know which search terms to focus on in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
      • You’ll know exactly what to write about in your corporate site, blog and other content channels
      • You can focus your efforts on the markets, products and packages that have highest revenue potential
    The SaaS Marketing Process
  • 24. Measuring ROI of Online Marketing
    • Overview of web analytics
    • Web analytics allows you to measure things like:
      • Number of visitors and visits to your site
      • Traffic sources (which sites visitors are coming from)
      • Popular content
      • Bounce rates (% of visitors who left your site immediately)
      • Conversion (% of visitors who completed a desirable action)
    • You can use analytics to learn how to improve your site
    • But this WON’T tell you how much money you’re making
  • 25. Measuring ROI of Online Marketing
    • Using web analytics to measure ROI
    • To measure ROI, you need to measure actual revenue:
      • Per online visitor acquired
      • Per lead
      • Per new customer
    • This requires translating CLICKS to CASH
    • This will allow you to know:
      • Your acquisition cost for visitors from each online channel
      • How much money you made off visitors from each channel
      • Which channels to focus on
      • How much to spend on each channel
  • 26. Measuring ROI of Online Marketing
    • The basic financial model: Lifetime Value/Customer (LTV)
      • ( Total revenues per product per period
      • - Total relevant variable costs )
      • / Number of customers
      • x Number of periods they remain customers
      • = LTV (Lifetime Value per Customer)
    Lifetime Value represents the amount of CASH your company will add over the course of time, by acquiring one customer.
  • 27. Measuring ROI of Online Marketing
    • Example: Calculating Lifetime Value for a SaaS customer
      • ( $30,000 revenues per month
      • - $10,000 server costs & support )
      • / 300 customers
      • x 24 months .
      • = $1600 LTV
  • 28. Measuring ROI of Online Marketing
    • Translating LEADS to CASH: Value per Lead (VPL)
      • Lead-to-Sale Conversion * LTV = VPL
      • Example:
      • 2% conversion * $1600 = $32
  • 29. Measuring ROI of Online Marketing
    • Translating CLICKS to CASH: Value per Visitor (VPV)
      • Visitor-to-Lead Conversion * Lead-to-Sale Conversion * LTV = VPV
      • Example:
      • 4% conversion to leads * 2% conversion to sales * $1600 = $1.28
      • (So if you’re paying $1 per click, Google is getting 78% of your profits)
  • 30. Blogging, Social and Search
  • 31. Blogging, Social and Search More specifically…
  • 32. Blogging, Social and Search Blogging Social Public Relations Search Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Google AdWords Corporate / Founder’s Blog Product Blog We’ll focus on…
  • 33. Blogging, Social and Search Public Relations Corporate / Founder’s Blog Product Blog How do these channels work together? Your Site Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Google AdWords
  • 34. Blogging, Social and Search Public Relations Corporate / Founder’s Blog Product Blog SEO, PPC, social networks, PR and Twitter generate traffic to your site. Your Site Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Google AdWords Acquisition Acquisition Acquisition Acquisition
  • 35. Blogging, Social and Search Public Relations Corporate / Founder’s Blog Product Blog Blogs and PR help SEO by attracting links; SEO drives traffic to your blogs. Your Site Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Google AdWords Traffic Traffic Links Links
  • 36. Blogging, Social and Search Public Relations Corporate / Founder’s Blog Product Blog Blogs feed content to social & receive traffic. Twitter also generates blog traffic. Your Site Traffic Content Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Google AdWords Traffic
  • 37. Blogging, Social and Search Public Relations Corporate / Founder’s Blog Product Blog Blogs can also generate traffic through references in the blogosphere. Your Site Traffic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Google AdWords Blogosphere
  • 38. Blogging, Social and Search Public Relations Corporate / Founder’s Blog Product Blog Blogs build readership, and gradually bring qualified visitors to your site. Your Site Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Google AdWords Acquisition
  • 39. Blogging, Social and Search Public Relations Corporate / Founder’s Blog Product Blog Product blogs, Twitter and social networks are also used for retention. Your Site Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Google AdWords Retention Retention
  • 40. Blogging, Social and Search Public Relations Corporate / Founder’s Blog Product Blog
    • Now we’ll go into a more detail about each of the channels below:
    • How it works
    • Investment required
    • How to measure ROI
    Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Google AdWords
  • 41. Blogging | Corporate Blog
    • Research the blogosphere, find a good niche subject
    • Start writing 2-5 posts per week on the subject
    • Read and comment on 50 leading related blogs
    • They’ll reference your blog => traffic
    • Plan your posts to include key SEO keywords
    • Setting up the blog:
      • On Blogger/TypePad – a few hours
      • WordPress installed – 1-3 days
    • Writing min. 2 posts / week (~1-4h / post)
    • Reading & commenting on other blogs (~2h / week)
    • Responding to comments (~1-4h / week)
    • ( Total blog visitors and subscribers * % who visit the website * VPV )
    • ( % contribution of blog readership to purchase * purchases from blog readers * LTV )
    • ( % contribution of blog subscription to purchase * purchases from blog subscribers* LTV )
    • For definitions of ROI terms, refer to slides 24-29
    (Alternatively, personal Founder’s Blog) ROI from direct visitors Indirect impact on likelihood to purchase
  • 42. Blogging | Corporate Blog Example: 37signals Corporate Blog Advertising (usually not recommended) Drives traffic to Product Blog Subjects that interest a broad relevant audience RSS subscription & Twitter Participation through comments is crucial Author (one of several) Low-key corporate branding Corporate call-to-action (Alternatively, personal Founder’s Blog)
  • 43. Blogging | Product Blog
    • Usually written by product team, embedded in site
    • Start writing 2-5 posts/week - product news, tips, etc.
    • Aim at retaining existing contacts & cross-selling
    • Focus on subjects users search for => SEO traffic
    • Recycle the content in your newsletter
    • Setting up the blog:
      • On Blogger/TypePad – a few hours
      • WordPress installed – 1-3 days
    • Writing min. 2 posts / week (~1-3h / post)
    • Responding to comments (~3-6h / week)
    • ( Total website visitors landing on blog * VPV )
    • ( % contribution of blog readership to purchase * purchases from blog readers * LTV )
    • ( % contribution of blog & newsletter subscription to purchase * purchases from subscribers* LTV )
    • For definitions of ROI terms, refer to slides 24-29
  • 44. Blogging | Product Blog Example: 37signals Product Blog Author (one of several) Focus on product features and benefits Choose the product that interests you RSS subscription & Twitter Links to knowledge base
  • 45. Blogging | Twitter
    • Post 140-character “Tweets” several times a day
    • Can be personal (“what I’m doing, check this out”) or corporate (“our news, events and offers”)
    • Follow people from your industry, they’ll follow you
    • Use (sparingly) to drive traffic to blog and offers
    • Write a good bio (1-2 hours)
    • Build a group of followers (ongoing)
    • Read Tweets and Direct Messages from colleagues/prospects (~1h/day)
    • Tweet/Retweet 5-15 times a day (~1h/day)
    • ( Total website visitors originating from Twitter * VPV )
    • ( Blog visitors originating from Twitter * % who visit the website * VPV )
    • ( % contribution of Twitter interaction to purchase * purchases from followers * LTV )
    • For definitions of ROI terms, refer to slides 24-29
  • 46. Blogging | Twitter Example: Freshbooks Twitter Page Author (one of several) Large base of followers 140-character bio “ Lists” - groups of followers with common interests Clear branding for quick identification Updates by SMS Leveraging positive customer Tweets Customer support questions Special offers Typically also links to blog posts and other relevant content
  • 47. Social | Facebook
    • Start a “Page”
    • Get people to “Like” it (1000+ and you’re in business)
    • Generate frequent updates to make it spread virally
    • Natural to connect your Page to your blog
    • Advanced: Facebook application => viral acquisition
    • Some graphic design/minor web development
    • One-time effort to build initial fan base
    • Core content (from your blog, etc.)
    • Somebody to post regular updates & reply
      • For ~1000 users – 2h /day
      • For ~5000 users – hire a part-time student
    • ( Website visitors originating from Facebook * VPV )
    • ( Blog visitors originating from Facebook * % who visit the website * VPV )
    • ( % contribution of Facebook interaction to purchase * purchases from fans * LTV )
    • For definitions of ROI terms, refer to slides 24-29
  • 48. Social | Facebook Example: SalesForce.com’s Facebook Page Pushing compelling content Contests to encourage participation Integration with media sharing Building a large fan base Encouraging customer comments
  • 49. Social | LinkedIn
    • Build company profile with the right keywords
    • Make noise and post content on large existing groups
    • Start a group, invite your team’s connections
    • Attract more members, post compelling content
    • Advanced: LinkedIn advertising, searching for leads
    • Writing a good company profile (a few hours)
    • Getting your team to build connections (ongoing)
    • Activity on existing groups (~2h / day)
    • Managing your own group
      • < 500 connections – 4h /day
      • > 500 connections – hire an agency
    • ( Website visitors originating from LinkedIn * VPV )
    • ( Blog visitors originating from LinkedIn * % who visit the website * VPV )
    • ( Direct leads from LinkedIn * VPL)
    • ( % contribution of group membership to purchase * purchases from group members * LTV )
    • For definitions of ROI terms, refer to slides 24-29
  • 50. Social | LinkedIn Example: Atlassian’s “Confluence Users” LinkedIn Group Encouraging user discussion Sharing new product features Building membership
  • 51. Social | LinkedIn Example: Weekly E-mail from SaaS Group Below the fold, all recent content E-mail from highly trusted sender Essentially it’s a dynamic newsletter Encourages click-through to discussions Active discussions on top
  • 52. Social | StumbleUpon
    • Get the toolbar, start tagging good content
    • Connect to influential “stumblers” in your field
    • Once you have a reputation, tag your own content
    • Your friends notice your content and vote on it
    • Content might spread virally => thousands of visits
    • Finding topics, writing profile (a few hours)
    • Tagging content on an ongoing basis (30 min. / day)
    • Networking with influencers, reviewing content (4-6 hrs. / week)
    • ( Website visitors through StumbleUpon * VPV )
    • ( Blog visitors through StumbleUpon * % who visit the website * VPV )
    • For definitions of ROI terms, refer to slides 24-29
  • 53. Social | StumbleUpon Example: Profile of “Korayem”, Web Dev Enthusiast Moderately influential, 344 followers Websites he stumbled upon 4K visits for this site. Some sites get 200K Interested in cool/new web dev stuff Follow him and he might follow you
  • 54. Social | YouTube
    • Upload short videos – demos, presentations (<100MB)
    • Create company profile and your own channel
    • Add videos to your channel (your own + others)
    • Make lots of friends
    • Invite them to see your videos, comment on theirs
    • Create the videos (hopefully you have them already)
    • Create a profile and channel (a few hours)
    • Manage your channel (~2 hrs. / week)
    • Make new friends (one-time effort + ~2 hrs. / week)
    • Network, comment on other videos (~1 hr. / day)
    • ( Website visitors through YouTube * VPV )
    • ( % contribution of video views to purchase * purchases from viewers * LTV )
    • The latter can be measured using the integration between YouTube and Google Analytics, released May 2010
    • For definitions of ROI terms, refer to slides 24-29
  • 55. Social | YouTube Example: SalesForce.com Channel on YouTube Videos updated every few days Big archive Short and sweet
  • 56. Social | YouTube Example: SalesForce.com Channel on YouTube Large subscriber base Encourage and reply to comments Link to site (drives traffic) Links to Facebook, Twitter, etc. Graphic call-to-action (more traffic)
  • 57. Social | Public Relations
    • Get a media list of industry journalists
    • Write press releases – customer wins, new products
    • Distribute to media list and follow up aggressively
    • Do editorial calendar research on your industry press
    • Submit vendor articles
    • A full-service PR agency costs $3-20K p.m.
    • Just media list/editorial calendar costs ~$4000 p.a.
    • Just following up on PR costs ~$1000 p.m.
    • Writing a PR/article by a professional costs $200-600
    • ( Website visitors through industry sites that covered you or published your articles * VPV )
    • ( % increase in direct traffic growth * VPV )
    • ( % contribution to SEO efforts * website visitors through SEO * VPV )
    • For definitions of ROI terms, refer to slides 24-29
  • 58. Social | Public Relations Example: Coverage of GigaSpaces by InfoQ Industry terms in title, high relevance Link to website using category name (SEO) Links drive traffic to corporate site Targeted professional publication Potential for social sharing
  • 59. Search | SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
    • Optimize your site to prevent SEO roadblocks
    • Find 5-10 search terms to focus on
      • High-profile terms – big, competitive, low conversion
      • Long-tail terms – small, non-competitive, high conversion
    • Build landing pages with search terms in titles & text
    • Attract incoming links with the terms in the alias
    • A full-service SEO agency costs $200-1000 p.m.
    • Or, buy just technical site optimization and DIY:
      • Find your top search terms and how you rank today
      • List yourself in directories, indexes and search engines
      • Improve site structure, add keywords to existing content
      • Do PR, blogs and add resources to your site
    • ( Total website visitors originating from search engines * VPV )
    • ( Blog visitors originating from search engines * % who visit the website * VPV )
    • ( Visitors from search engines before SEO program * VPV )
    • For definitions of ROI terms, refer to slides 24-29
  • 60. Search | SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Example: GigaSpaces Ranking for “In-Memory Data Grid” Author (one of several) #1: HazelCast, small open source solution #2: Oracle, the heavyweight #5: GigaSpaces #3 and #4: news and images Major product category for GigaSpaces
  • 61. Search | SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Example: GigaSpaces Page Ranking #5 for “In-Memory Data Grid” Author (one of several) This page is part of GigaSpaces’ wiki documentation Large content site with 1000s of pages Search term in title Search term in summary Search term in initial text Link to corporate site “ Real” content, over 500 words per page
  • 62. Search | Google AdWords
    • Use Keyword Tool to find all relevant search terms
    • Prioritize – for enterprise SaaS, use 50-100 terms
    • Divide into groups and write good ads for each group
    • Build relevant landing pages with strong call to action
    • Start advertising, test conversion and optimize
    • A PPC agency costs ~$150-300 p.m. for small budget
    • Set AdWords budget: $500-1000 p.m. is reasonable
    • Even if you use an agency, you’ll need to invest in:
      • Keywords research, reviewing/writing ads (~4-8 days)
      • Meetings and reports (~3h / week)
      • Auditing and monitoring the campaign (~2h / week)
    • ROI is simple: Number of visitors * conversion to purchase * LTV
    • Check conversion, bounce rate and ROI per keyword
    • Find your few “gold keywords” and get rid of the rest
    • NEVER bid more than 70% of Value per Visit
    • For definitions of ROI terms, refer to slides 24-29
  • 63. Search | Google AdWords Example: QuickBooks Pay-Per-Click Ad QuickBooks have bid their way to the top Top ranking ads appear on top of results QuickBooks is not in page 1 of the organic results The rest of the ads are here Title of ad repeats the search term Text of ad states a benefit and calls to action Highly competitive generic keyword
  • 64. Search | Google AdWords Example: QuickBooks Pay-Per-Click Landing Page Short, clear message Short form ROI: % who click this * % who purchase after trial Short, clear message Details of offer and key benefits Objection handling (security) Typically there are customer logos for validation Call to action – conversion goal is free trial More info below the fold if you’re not convinced
  • 65. Summary What you bring to the table How it’s perceived in the market How you pitch it to customers Landing pages, blog posts, press releases Gone full circle? Back to the drawing board
  • 66. Thank You!
    • Reach out to me if you have any questions or comments.
    • Gilad David Maayan
    • SaaS Marketing, Blogging and Social Content
    • Mobile +972-50-6570046
    • E-mail [email_address]
    • LinkedIn http://il.linkedin.com/in/giladdavidmaayan